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That '70s Show Could Have Been Called Something Very Different

For eight seasons, watching That '70s Show every Tuesday night was the same old thing we did last week

The show follows six teenagers in Point Place, Wisconsin from 1976 to 1979. From watching the majesty of Star Wars in theaters to listening to Alice Cooper and other "satanic" musical artists, the teens of That '70s Show moved through numerous hallmarks of the decade — allowing older fans to relive their time in the '70s and offering younger audiences a glimpse into the time period that seems like a distant memory now. 

There are a lot of things people fondly remember about the show, like Kelso's "burns," Mrs. Forman's laugh, the gang's "Circle," and celebrity guest appearances. And you really can't do better than that title. "That '70s Show" tells you everything you need to know about the sitcom, and it was a good way to differentiate it amongst a crowded sitcom lineup in the '90s. But amazingly, the show almost wasn't called that. In fact, there were quite a few options on the table before executives made television history with the straightforward, super-memorable title.

Several titles based on song names were initially considered

Music plays a big part on That '70s Show, so it makes sense that network Fox would want to make the title of the series a song name. As detailed by The Hollywood Reporter, some of the working titles for That '70s Show were based on famous songs from the '70s: Reeling in the Years (a song by Steely Dan), Feelin' All Right (a Joe Cocker and Traffic jam), The Kids Are Alright (by The Who), and Teenage Wasteland (also by The Who). 

These are all fitting choices considering the show is about a group of teenagers wasting away in suburbia, but Fox apparently ran into trouble with all of them. The network couldn't get the rights to use any of these song titles for the name of its new sitcom. 

As That '70s Show executive producer Tom Werner explained to The Hollywood Reporter, "Teenage Wasteland was our tentative title. It was on the first draft, but we couldn't get the rights to it from The Who. So we went back to the drawing board and came up with 30 titles." The Who's Pete Townshend, who wrote "The Kids Are Alright," also "shot down" the idea of Fox using the song's title for the show.

At an upfront with advertisers in 1998, Peter Roth, the president of Fox at the time, presented the title Feelin' All Right — but there was an issue with that as well. "As we got closer, the network decided that wasn't memorable enough," explained Werner. "And frankly, it wouldn't have been."

In the end, the best choice was the one that was the most practical. Bonnie Turner, who co-created That '70s Show with Terry Turner and Mark Brazill, came up with the title That '70s Show because, as Werner tells it, she figured "that's what everyone is going to end up calling it anyway. No matter what we come up with, they'll say, 'Did you see that '70s show?'"

The series' creative team and the executives at Fox agreed. From there, That '70s Show was bornand the title proved to be precisely what the series needed.